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10 Ways Airports Are Secretly Manipulating You (For the Better?)

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Going to the airport is never fun. You have to deal with insane baggage fees, long security lines, overpriced Wolfgang Puck food and then your flight will be delayed even though it’s bright and sunny outside. And did you know airports are also trying to manipulate you ever step of the way?

Here are 12 ways airports are secretly manipulating you:

1. You Can Always See the Tarmac

Easy navigation is an important part of being in an airport. That’s why when you’re near departure gates, you can always see the tarmac where the planes are waiting. It tells the passenger that they’re in the right place, as opposed to the food court where you can’t see the planes.

2. Signage

There is nothing random about the signs in airports. They almost universally use one of three fonts (Helvetica, Frutiger or Clearview) because they’re the easiest to read from long distances. They’ll also have distinct colors or shapes. The point is that if you’re looking at the signs and get a feeling you’re in the wrong place, you probably are.

3. Windows

Most airports, especially newer ones, have tons of windows. It’s to make passengers feel happier…and also spend more money. Studies show people visit airports that are better lit by natural light than ones that are not.

4. Art

Very often an airport will have a large piece of art or a sculpture in the terminal area. You might think it’s for direction, but it’s actually to help navigate better. If you’re trying to find someone, you can use the art as a point of direction.

5. Carpeting

Airport floors are usually made of linoleum or some other similar material. But the departure gates always have carpet. They do this so passengers feel more relaxed and comfortable near the gates. And a relaxed and happy passenger is also more likely to spend money on stores or restaurants nearby.

6. The Golden Hour

Airports refer to the first 60 minutes after a person gets through security as the Golden Hour.” This is a one hour window where the person will be in a self-indulgent mood. That’s why you’ll see the boards showing departure times right after security. It’s to tell the passenger how long they have to go out and buy something in the terminal before their flight.

7. Increase the Golden Hour

Airports also want to increase the time between when you get through security and your flight actually takes off. That’s why so many airlines are installing automatic bag check and why there are fast lanes to get through security. The more time you spend in the terminal, the more likely you are to spend money.

8. Clustering Shops

In many airports, as soon as you get through security, there will be a food court or a bunch of shops. That’s because they want to put their stores in areas where the most people will be. It also creates a sort of Main Street” atmosphere that encourages people to take part and buy something.

9. Everything’s Local

Airports also stuff terminals with shops displaying local souvenirs, because that’s what tourists and visitors are interested in buying at airports. You can buy a pair of blue jeans or a DVD anywhere, but there’s only one place you can buy a I <3 New York” t‑shirt.

10. Walkways Curve Left

Most people are right-handed, which means they tend to look more to the right than to the left. So airports design walkways to curve left and put all the stores on the right to even more push people to look right and perhaps get something to catch their eye.

(h/​t Mental Floss)

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